Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Fall Ferns Fading

Final show for Narrow Leaved Glade Fern

After the snow, freezing temperatures and then grey skies and cold temperatures, I was not sure I wanted to go out and face November. It has been such a wonderful year for most ferns, and now they were mostly dying back, fading away. I was feeling like there was not much to go out and look for anymore. We have been so spoiled this year!

But Randy & I decided to go out to one of my favorite places, the Mt Toby Waterfall area. We take people on a fern hike there every year because there is such an abundance and diversity of ferns (& flowers & fungi), but we go often on our own just exploring and enjoying all the beauty. I am glad we went! Once we were surrounded by the sounds of the waterfall and flowing stream, and saw many of the ferns still there in some form, it was wonderful. As one of the quotes I have seen from John Muir says (slightly paraphrased) "In every walk with nature one receives far more than (one) seeks".

This photo is a close up of a portion of a fertile frond of the Narrow-leaved Glade Fern (now named Homalosorus pycnocarpos). It is a tall fern with characteristics which have placed it with Lady Ferns or Silvery Spleenworts, but it is in its own family (Diplaziopsidaceae), and the only one of the four species found in eastern North America (other 3 in east Asia). It is distinctive! The fertile pinnae or leaflets are turning brown and curling, but still showing their lovely herringbone pattern of sori or fruit dots. We find them in rich, moist to wet, partially shaded woods with neutral soils. Sometimes we need boots to get to them, but today was not that bad.

So, it is definitely worth getting outside to enjoy the beauty of nature, and all the stages the different ferns are going through now. We found 21 different species today, but there will be less each time until spring again.

It won't be long until our Mt Toby Winter Ferns and Trees hike the day after Thanksgiving. If you want an excuse not to go shopping, join us! Friday November 24th from 1-3PM. Meet at the parking lot off Reservation Rd in Sunderland.